Chocolate lovers and PMS-victims, rejoice: your search for the world's most perfect chocolaty treat ends here. As I begin to write about said treat, my mouth is beginning to water and my tummy is beginning to rumble. There are only two brownies left in the tray, which sits treacherously close to my reach. Ok. Hold. I must go get one before proceeding (it will ensure a more accurate description!).
I'm back. But how does one describe perfection? I can use the usual suspects: flaky and slightly crisp on the outside, moist, gooey and deeply chocolaty on the inside. But that does not do it justice - any brownie (ok, not any), could, perhaps, claim such virtues. (Brownie completely devoured, by the way). How do I communicate the extraordinary nature of this particular dessert, without technology to let you taste it through your screen? (Haas folks, if I only I had an "iSmell" device...) I'm at a loss, really.
I have to make a confession, though. This is the first time I've made brownies from scratch (scandalous, I know). That in itself probably explains half the superiority of these brownies. But not all of it.
Here's the thing that makes them perfect: it's science. If you've ever watched Alton Brown's show on Food Network, you know that his recipes are based on science and chemistry of ingredients. It's fascinating. And guess what? Food is science, people! When you saute something, deglaze a pan, make a roux, or bake something...you are not just wearing your figurative chef's hat, but also your geeky nerd glasses. You are creating chemical reactions, breaking down compounds, turning liquids into solids. It's pretty amazing.
That is the real joy of cooking: it is an opportunity to create something from nothing (perhaps why I like being an entrepreneur so much, too), a space in time every day where I can sizzle and make sizzle, I can experiment and improvise, I can hypothesize, test, and get immediate feedback. It's the perfect science experiment, really. And to think, I didn't like chemistry that much in high school (can you blame me? It's not like I could eat my experiments...).
What will you sizzle today? What will you bake? More importantly, what will you create and what will you savor? If you use the recipe below, it could just be the taste of perfection.
Cocoa Brownies by Alton Brown (Makes 16 brownies)
- Soft butter, for greasing the pan
- Flour, for dusting the buttered pan
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup sugar, sifted
- 1 cup brown sugar, sifted
- 8 ounces melted butter
- 1 1/4 cups cocoa, sifted
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup flour, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8-inch square pan.
- In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs at medium speed until fluffy and light yellow. Add both sugars. Add remaining ingredients, and mix to combine.
- Pour the batter into a greased and floured 8-inch square pan and bake for 45 minutes. Check for doneness with the tried-and-true toothpick method: a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan should come out clean. When it's done, remove to a rack to cool. Resist the temptation to cut into it until it's mostly cool.